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Federal Monitor: Patronage Still a Problem in Chicago

By Kevin Robinson in News on Dec 19, 2007 2:50PM

Corruption in Chicago has evolved, according to federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan. According to the annual report Brennan released yesterday, blatant abuses and manipulation of the hiring system in the city is no longer a problem. But patronage has moved to "more subtle types of manipulations of the hiring process." Brennan has been the hiring monitor since August of 2005, when federal prosecutors uncovered a fraudulent hiring scheme that led to Daley's former patronage chief Robert Sorich in prison being sentenced to 46 months in prison.

2007_12_city_hall.jpgIn her 2006 report, Brennan noted that there were "pockets of resistance" to the changes, but that the city's compliance had had increased substantially, but that 2007 marked a decline in compliance. In particular "acting up" - the practice of an employee working in a higher-paid job without going through a formal promotion or process - is a persistent problem. According to her report, management in the city's Fire Department even went so far as to order one employee to “work from home for several months to avoid detection.” Included in the litany of compliance issues she cites in her report are failure to discipline employees implicated in the ongoing federal investigation of hiring abuses, the city's refusal to terminate Christopher Kozicki for allegedly altering an interview score so the 19-year-old son of a top union official could be hired as a building inspector, and the testing of police lieutenant candidates with potentially compromised exam questions. Among her other findings:

  • Fleet managers who 'manipulated bid lists, let valid interview lists expire and collaborated with an individual in human resources in an effort to hire two specific candidates for dispatcher positions.'

  • 'Housing manipulated an interview sequence to ensure selection of a specific candidate.'

  • A deputy commissioner in Department of Transportation admitted she promised positions to the candidates she intended to select.

  • In Aviation 'Two selected candidates did not meet minimum requirements.'

  • 'Senior members of the law department provided materially misleading and inaccurate information in response to a request for an investigation.'

To date, the city has paid more than $2 million to Brennan and her lawyers and staff since her appointment.

[Trib] [Sun-Times]

Image via Minneapolis Red Sox